The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

Michael McDowell is a queer organizer, health and wellness coach, and artist in the twin cities.

Michael McDowell

On speaker day Michael McDowell, a founder of Black Lives Matter Minneapolis and a community organizer for worker’s rights, economic development and police abolition, shared a presentation titled “Dismantling the Master’s House” to start off the discussion about the pillars of oppression with his group. He started his presentation off with an imaginative exercise where he asked students to close their eyes and think about the big white house on the screen and issues such as colonialism, white supremacy and racism, patriarchy and capitalism they have seen or heard of in their own life experience. After this, McDowell dove into those pillars of oppression. After explaining what they were and giving an example of those oppressions he has seen in his life, he asked the students on the meet to unmute and share examples of when they have seen those four pillars in their own life. Students shared stories, things they have seen in the media, and their extensive knowledge of these four pillars. Later McDowell explained that many people have their own lived experience and some can attest to facing one or more of these pillars of oppression, but he also explained how many of us perpetuate the pillars that don’t affect us. He discussed how many overlook them or cast them aside and keep internalized biases, prejudice and narratives of others. In light of this, McDowell shared his idea of dismantling these internalized things, “It’s all this in fighting that constantly keeps this wedge between us and one of the things that I think will really shift these false narratives is us being in deep relationships with each other and having deep connections with multiple cultures and different types of people…” McDowell led an intellectual and enlightening discussion that brought students a new idea and knowledge about their classmates and community around them.

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